Background: Serious infectious morbidity is high in preterm infants. Enteral supplementation of prebiotics may reduce the incidence of serious infections, especially infections related to the gastrointestinal tract. Objective: The objective was to determine the effect of enteral supplementation of a prebiotic mixture consisting of neutral oligosaccharides (SCGOS/LCFOS) and acidic oligosaccharides (AOS) on serious infectious morbidity in preterm infants. Design: In a randomized controlled trial, preterm infants (gestational age <32 wk and/or birth weight <1500 g) received enteral supplementation of 80%SCGOS/LCFOS and 20% AOS (1.5 g·kg-1·d-1) or placebo (maltodextrin) between days 3 and 30 of life. Serious infectious morbidity was defined as a culture positive for sepsis, meningitis, pyelonephritis, or pneumonia. The analysis was performed by intention-to-treat and per-protocol, defined as ≥50% supplementation dose during the study period. Results: In total, 113 preterm infants were included. Baseline and nutritional characteristics were not different between groups. In the intention-to-treat analysis, the incidence of ≥1 serious infection, ≥1 serious endogenous infection, or ≥2 serious infectious episodes was not significantly different in theSCGOS/LCFOS/AOS-supplemented and placebo groups. In the per-protocol analysis, there was a trend toward a lower incidence of ≥1 serious endogenous infection and ≥2 serious infectious episodes in theSCGOS/LCFOS/AOS-supplemented group than in the placebo group (P = 0.09 and P = 0.07, respectively). Conclusions: Enteral supplementation ofSCGOS/LCFOS/AOS does not significantly reduce the risk of serious infectious morbidity in preterm infants. However, there was a trend toward a lower incidence of serious infectious morbidity, especially for infections with endogenous bacteria. This finding suggests a possible beneficial effect that should be evaluated in a larger study. This trial was registered at as ISRCTN16211826.

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Westerbeek, E., van den Berg, J.P., Lafeber, H.N., Fetter, W.P.F., Boehm, G., Twisk, J.W.R., & van Elburg, R.M.. (2010). Neutral and acidic oligosaccharides in preterm infants: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 91(3), 679–686. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.28625